There’s no denying that non-verbal communication aka “body language” has been a part of communication since the beginning of human civilization. While it is a huge portion of how we communicate with one another the study of non verbal communication was not taken seriously until the 1960’s when the presidential debate was televised for the first time ever. The debate took place between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon and gained widespread controversy because those who listened to it on radio believed Nixon won the debate while those who watched on television believed Kennedy had won. Since the debate the study of non verbal communication has been taken much more seriously. Since body language is an essential part of communication it plays a vital role in every aspect of life. Learning to pick up on non verbal cues and even practice some of your own will have countless applications and in the process make you a much more powerful communicator.
Let’s start with the most basic foundation of “body language”, what is it? Basically body language boils down to anything you are expressing that is not done with words. Some non verbal cues are universal and can be seen from a mile away while some non verbal cues can be almost impossible to pick up on unless you are a true expert in body language. The way you walk, talk, sit and stand all say something about you. Wether consciously or subconsciously what is going on in the inside of our heads usually reflects through our non verbal communication to those around us.
We have all judged someone based on a first impression before. Hell, a lot of us have judged people without even speaking a word with them. Maybe you get a bad feeling about them but don’t know why, or even see someone you believe you would love to meet but you can’t seem to pin a reason as to why they seem so welcoming. It all boils down to body language. Wether we like it or not, we only get the chance to make a first impression once and for the majority of the people who see us or even meet us, our first impression has already been determined before we can say two words. As we form our first impressions we tend to look for a few things: posture, eye contact and gestures. If the person we are observing has bad posture, does not make eye contact with us and covers themselves up chances are we aren’t going to initiate a conversation with them at all. Let’s say they are standing up straight, look us dead in the eyes and smile, it makes it much easier to walk up and say hello. From there we form an impression on their speech and tone of voice. Although the person we are observing may not know they are giving off a bad vibe with their non verbal cues and it’s possible you two could hit it off, most of the time we never give it a chance and the opportunity is lost.
Wether you like it or not body language plays a primal role in how we communicate as a species. Our body language includes movements and gestures with our body as whole, while each piece is separate, like a puzzle they form to convey a meaning. It is important to understand the role that body language plays in our everyday communication and will until the end of time. My goal with this post is to get you familiar with what body language is. In the next week, we will be reviewing the two key sides of body language: decoding and encoding. We will learn how to read other’s non verbal communication and how to enhance our ability to send non verbal cues to other people.